home to Tara to convalesce, leaving Rhett in Atlanta. Rhett calls on Melanie
and tells her that he wants Ashley to buy out Scarlett's interest in the mills,
so that Scarlett can rest and recuperate fully. Rhett knows that Ashley has no
money, so Rhett wants to lend it to him. Ashley would not accept a loan or gift
from Rhett, so Rhett proposes to send him the money anonymously through the
mail. He asks Melanie to keep quiet about where the money came from and to
ensure that Ashley spends it on the mills. The income from the mills will
ensure that Beau can go to university. Though Melanie does not know it, Rhett's
true motive is to cut the link between Scarlett and Ashley. Melanie gratefully
accepts Rhett's offer.
to Atlanta in good health and full of gossip about her old friends. Suellen is
pregnant with her second child, and a group of freed slaves has bought the
Calvert's old house. Will and Scarlett have converted Tara from a plantation to
a successful farm, but most of the owners of the old plantations are
with bland politeness towards Scarlett. He tells her that Ashley has been left
money by someone he nursed through smallpox while a prisoner of war, and that
he wants to buy out her interest in the mills. He goads Scarlett by claiming
that he told Ashley that she would never sell because she cannot resist telling
Ashley how to run his own business. Scarlett falls for Rhett's bait and
resolves to sell Ashley the mills to prove that she is not as Rhett has painted
Ashley buys the
mills from Scarlett. His first action is to turn away the convicts and employ
freed slaves, as he could not be happy if he was making money out of the
sufferings of others. Scarlett protests that she could never have made all her
money if she had been so scrupulous. Rhett asks sarcastically if her money has
made her happy, but Scarlett cannot reply.
Scarlett with impersonal courtesy. He no longer stings her with his barbed
comments and she wonders if it is because he no longer cares what she says and
does. All the attention he used to give her is channeled into Bonnie.
exclusively with his Old Southern acquaintances, and never invites his former
carpetbagger, Republican or Scalawag associates to his house. He reveals to
Scarlett that he and Ashley disbanded the local branch of the Ku Klux Klan
because it was counterproductive, causing the Yankees to interfere too much in
the South. Rhett is now a respectable Democrat and is playing a part in
convicting some of his former Republican friends for fraudulent practices. Even
Governor Bullock is under investigation. Rhett is working hard to get a
Democrat installed as governor and is contributing financially to the
Democratic party. He explains that for him, this is "not a change of heart" but
"a change of hide" which will help smooth Bonnie's path in the future.
Governor Bullock resigns and flees from Georgia under a cloud of accusations of
corruption. An election is held in December and a Democratic governor is voted
in. Reconstruction is over. Scarlett's Yankee friends leave town. In spite of
Rhett's predictions that this would happen, Scarlett is bewildered by the
turnabout in events. Rhett has become one of the most popular men in Atlanta,
whereas she, who has neglected the Old Southerners and cultivated the Yankees,
is without her new friends and cut off from her old ones.
into a headstrong and spoiled, if sweet and charming, child. Scarlett feels
jealous of her closeness to Rhett and her ability to understand and manage him.
Rhett indulges her, buying her a Shetland pony. Bonnie learns to jump the pony
over small hurdles and begs her father to set the bar higher. Rhett reluctantly
agrees. Bonnie cries, "Mother, watch me take this one!" As Bonnie gallops the
pony towards the jump, Scarlett notices that her eyes look exactly like
Gerald's. Then she remembers that Gerald died after uttering these exact same
words. She shouts for Bonnie to stop, but it is too late. The pony crashes into
the jump and throws Bonnie to her death.
later, Mammy goes to beg Melanie for help. She reports that Rhett is so
grief-stricken that he is keeping Bonnie's body in his room with him, refusing
to let her be buried because of her fear of the dark. Scarlett has accused
Rhett of killing Bonnie, and Rhett has replied that Scarlett does not care for
any of her children. Scarlett has insisted that the funeral will be held
tomorrow, but Rhett has threatened to kill Scarlett rather than let her bury
the child. Mammy asks Melanie to persuade Rhett to allow Bonnie to be buried.
Rhett in his room and succeeds in persuading him to let the funeral go ahead.
She sits up all night with Bonnie's body while Rhett sleeps.
Rhett makes a
final attempt to save his relationship with Scarlett when he secretly enables
Ashley to buy her out of the mills, thus severing a link between Scarlett and
Ashley. His action does not appear to restore his marriage, however, and he
continues to pour all his energy into Bonnie and into reinventing himself as a
respectable Democrat, for the sake of Bonnie's future.
Bonnie, as the
only child of Rhett and Scarlett, symbolizes the bond between them. When Bonnie
dies, Rhett and Scarlett's marriage dies with her. As when Scarlett was ill,
she and Rhett do not communicate properly: Rhett shuts himself in his room with
his whiskey, and when Scarlett visits him, it is only to accuse him of
murdering their child. Once again, Melanie provides the strength that Rhett
draws upon. She persuades him to allow Bonnie to be buried and sits up with the
body all night while Rhett sleeps. Her action mirrors Scarlett's in delivering
Melanie's baby in Atlanta, but the important difference is that Melanie acts
from genuinely altruistic motives, whereas Scarlett acted out of a selfish love
recalls Gerald's. Both die attempting to jump a fence with the same words on
their lips - "Watch me take this one!" Scarlett even notices in the moment
leading up to the fateful jump that Bonnie's eyes resemble Gerald's.
between the two has many resonances. Gerald and Bonnie both die because of
their hotheaded willfulness and stubborn refusal to listen to the voices of
caution. Scarlett also has these O'Hara traits in abundance; they have been
largely responsible for her success as well as her mistakes. The similarity
between Gerald, Bonnie, and Scarlett (the middle-generation link that joins the
two), suggests that as Gerald symbolized Scarlett's past, Bonnie symbolized
Scarlett's future. The fact that both have died in the same way - crashing into
a fence - raises an unanswered question: is Scarlett, too, heading for a fatal
crash? Will her stubbornness and hotheaded recklessness prove her undoing, too?
Already, we see her having lost, or at risk of losing, much that she has built
up: her marriage, her social position, her mills, the trust of her children,
and her illusory relationship with Ashley.